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Nathan Edwards Mar 10, 2010

Sony Vaio SZ Premium

At A Glance

Viable

Sexy carbon-fiber shell; decent battery life; powerful graphics (for an ultraportable)

Vitriol

So. Much. Crapware. Case is kinda flimsy; too-small trackpad. Expensive.

Weighing a tad more than 4 pounds, Sony’s Vaio SX is the heftiest laptop in the ultraportable category. Yet despite its larger size, the Vaio isn’t the sturdiest small-size contender. That’s too bad because this little rig packs killer performance in its sexy carbon-fiber shell—it’s the only ultraportable we tested that includes discrete graphics.

The Vaio delivered great benchmark numbers—and thanks to its GeForce 8400M GS videocard, it’s the only ultraportable that even ran our gaming benchmarks. And unlike other machines we’ve tested, killer performance didn’t impact battery life; the Vaio ran our movie playback test for more than three hours.

We’re also fond of the Vaio’s Rev A Sprint EVDO card. It perfectly complements the 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth options. The Vaio also accommodates both PCMCIA and ExpressCard/34 cards, if you’d rather use your own WAN card.

On the other hand, the Vaio’s trackpad is too damn small, and the machine feels flimsy and poorly constructed. We suspect that its extra pound of heft is made up entirely of crapware—the Vaio ships with a ludicrous number of useless preinstalled applications. We understand the economic necessities of subsidizing inexpensive PCs with third-party crapware, but there’s no excuse for whoring out a notebook of this price. The first thing we’d do after buying this Vaio is reinstall Windows.

Next: Lenovo ThinkPad X300

Specifications

Sony Vaio SZ Premium
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 (2.50GHz)
RAM 4GB DDR2/667
Hard Drive
250GB, 5,400rpm
Screen 13.3-inch LED-backlit LCD (1280x800)
Lap/Carry Weight
4 lbs. / 4lbs. 13 oz.
Benchmarks

Apple MacBook Air
Sony Vaio SZ Premium
Lenovo ThinkPad X300
Premiere Pro CS3 (min:sec)
59:21 47:22
59:01
Photoshop CS3 (min:sec)
6:07 3:08
5:36
ProShow (min:sec)
95:11
35:44
63:25
MainConcept (min:sec) 174:11
59:52
119:36
Fear (fps)
WNR
WNR
WNR
Quake 4 (fps)
WNR
WNR
WNR
Battery Rundown (hrs:min) 2:39
3:02
3:01
Best scores are bolded.
THE VERDICT

Sony Vaio SZ Premium

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